Thursday, January 31, 2019

Pg. 99: Elizabeth Wein's "A Thousand Sisters"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II by Elizabeth Wein.

About the book, from the publisher:
The gripping true story of the only women to fly in combat in World War II—from Elizabeth Wein, award-winning author of Code Name Verity

In the early years of World War II, Josef Stalin issued an order that made the Soviet Union the first country in the world to allow female pilots to fly in combat. Led by Marina Raskova, these three regiments, including the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—nicknamed the “night witches”—faced intense pressure and obstacles both in the sky and on the ground. Some of these young women perished in flames. Many of them were in their teens when they went to war.

This is the story of Raskova’s three regiments, women who enlisted and were deployed on the front lines of battle as navigators, pilots, and mechanics. It is the story of a thousand young women who wanted to take flight to defend their country, and the woman who brought them together in the sky.

Packed with black-and-white photographs, fascinating sidebars, and thoroughly researched details, A Thousand Sisters is the inspiring true story of a group of women who set out to change the world, and the sisterhood they formed even amid the destruction of war.
Visit Elizabeth Wein's website.

The Page 69 Test: Black Dove, White Raven.

The Page 69 Test: The Pearl Thief.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Wein.

The Page 99 Test: A Thousand Sisters.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Anna Stephens reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Anna Stephens, author of Darksoul: The Godblind Trilogy, Book Two.

Her entry begins:
I've been on a research kick in the last few months for the new book/series I'm drafting, so I've been reading a lot of history and archaeology books.

I'm currently reading Legion versus Phalanx by military sci-fi author Myke Cole. This is his first foray into writing history books and I'm hooked. Myke's fiction writing chops really shine through and he takes a subject that could be extremely dry and dusty and brings it to life. The book covers six major battles in the ancient world that saw the Roman Legion face off against the Greek/Hellenistic Phalanx and the outcomes of those battles. The phalanx was the greatest military invention up to that time, and the book explores its strengths and weaknesses and how the legions eventually overcame it. I'm really enjoying it, and it's...[read on]
About Darksoul, from the publisher:
Evil gods walk the land as armies prepare for war in the thrilling grimdark sequel to the fantasy debut Godblind.

In the besieged city of Rilporin, Commander Durdil Koridam is crowned a reluctant king, and orders that the city’s people must fight to the last rather than surrender to the surrounding armies of the Mireces and their evil Red Gods.

Outside Rilporin, the uneasy truce between King Corvus’s Mireces and the traitorous Prince Rivil’s forces holds, but the two armies are growing desperate to force a breach of the walls before the city’s reinforcements arrive.

Meanwhile, prophet Dom Templeson reaches Rilporin: the Red Gods have tortured and broken his mind, and he ends up in Corvus’s hands, forced to tell all his secrets. And what he knows could win the war for the Mireces.

Elsewhere, in Yew Cove, only a few survivors remain from a Rank of thousands of Rilporian warriors. Dom foresees the important role one of those survivors, Crys Tailorson, will take on as the events to come unfold. As Crys grows into his position as a leader, that role becomes clearer—and far darker. Will he be willing to pay the price to fulfill his destiny?
Visit Anna Stephens's website.

My Book, The Movie: Godblind.

The Page 69 Test: Godblind.

The Page 69 Test: Darksoul.

Writers Read: Anna Stephens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jack Kelly's "The Edge of Anarchy," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Edge of Anarchy: The Railroad Barons, the Gilded Age, and the Greatest Labor Uprising in America by Jack Kelly.

The entry begins:
How would I adapt The Edge of Anarchy into a movie? The book details the greatest labor disturbance in U.S. history, the 1894 Pullman Strike, which shut down rail service to much of the nation and brought rioting and food shortages to major cities.

Labor history has not attracted many feature film makers. Norma Rae, Matewan, On the Waterfront ... the list runs out pretty quickly. To succeed the movie needs a strong protagonist. The Edge of Anarchy has this in Eugene Debs, the dynamic leader of the American Railway Union. A good villain is essential – George Pullman and U.S. Attorney General Richard Olney, who called in the army, will both serve nicely. A female lead: Jennie Curtis, a seamstress who electrified the union delegates and became a voice for the strike. A narrator: Debs’s younger brother Theodore, always at his side.

Christian Bale would be able to handle the role of Debs, as proven particularly by...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Jack Kelly's website.

The Page 99 Test: Band of Giants.

My Book, The Movie: The Edge of Anarchy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tony McNamara’s ten favorite books

Tony McNamara wrote the screenplay for The Favourite.

One of his ten favorite books, as shared at
Something Happened by Joseph Heller

I read this when I was 21 and was knocked out by the darkness of the satire and the incredible comic rhythms created. Bob Slocum is scared of everything. A book about being destroyed by your own fears, and the inability to confront them.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Pg. 99: Cailin O’Connor & James Owen Weatherall's "The Misinformation Age"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread by Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall.

About the book, from the publisher:
The social dynamics of “alternative facts”: why what you believe depends on who you know

Why should we care about having true beliefs? And why do demonstrably false beliefs persist and spread despite bad, even fatal, consequences for the people who hold them?

Philosophers of science Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall argue that social factors, rather than individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the spread and persistence of false beliefs. It might seem that there’s an obvious reason that true beliefs matter: false beliefs will hurt you. But if that’s right, then why is it (apparently) irrelevant to many people whether they believe true things or not?

The Misinformation Age, written for a political era riven by “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and disputes over the validity of everything from climate change to the size of inauguration crowds, shows convincingly that what you believe depends on who you know. If social forces explain the persistence of false belief, we must understand how those forces work in order to fight misinformation effectively.
Visit Cailin O'Connor's website and James Owen Weatherall's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Misinformation Age.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Chris Nickson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Chris Nickson, author of The Hanging Psalm.

His entry begins:
I tend to have two books on the go at any one time, a downstairs book and an upstairs one for bedtime. Downstairs I’m currently enjoying Vita Nuova by Magdalen Nabb. She was an English writer, dead for a few years now, who moved to Florence in the mid ‘70s with her young son, knowing nobody and no Italian – about as daring as you can be. Yet she made a life for herself there, and created a reputation both as a children’s writer and a crime writer. I came across one of her novels featuring the marshal, a carabinieri NCO, in the library. I liked it, and since then I’ve read three more. Her Florence isn’t as exquisitely portrayed as Donna Leon’s Venice, but her main character is quite enchanting, and...[read on]
About The Hanging Psalm, from the publisher:
Leeds, 1820. Simon Westow, a Leeds thief-taker, knows all about lost property. But when he is asked to find the kidnapped daughter of a successful Leeds businessman, Simon and his assistant, Jane, face a challenge like no other. Could the answers lie within the streets of Leeds and a figure from Simon's own past?
Learn more about the book and author at Chris Nickson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Constant Lovers.

The Page 69 Test: The Constant Lovers.

The Page 69 Test: The Iron Water.

The Page 69 Test: The Hanging Psalm.

Writers Read: Chris Nickson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Gareth Hanrahan's "The Gutter Prayer"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan.

About the book, from the publisher:
A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

Enter a city of saints and thieves...

The city of Guerdon stands eternal. A refuge from the war that rages beyond its borders. But in the ancient tunnels deep beneath its streets, a malevolent power has begun to stir.

The fate of the city rests in the hands of three thieves. They alone stand against the coming darkness. As conspiracies unfold and secrets are revealed, their friendship will be tested to the limit. If they fail, all will be lost, and the streets of Guerdon will run with blood.

The Gutter Prayer is an epic tale of sorcerers and thieves, treachery and revenge, from a remarkable new voice in fantasy.
Visit Gareth Hanrahan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Gutter Prayer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books about veganism

Bee Wilson is a celebrated food writer, food historian, and author. Her books include First Bite: How We Learn to Eat and Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat. She has been named BBC Radio's food writer of the year and is a three-time Guild of Food Writers food journalist of the year. She writes a monthly column on food in the Wall Street Journal. She lives in Cambridge, England.

Wilson's newest book is The Way We Eat Now: How the Food Revolution Has Transformed Our Lives, Our Bodies, and Our World.

One of her five favorite books about veganism, as shared at the Guardian:
On the ethics of veganism, the ur-text remains Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. Published in 1975, this fierce and brilliant work of philosophy makes uncomfortable reading for “flexitarians” like me who declare we love vegan food before eating another dish of braised lamb. In clear, logical prose, Singer argues that the suffering of animals in factory farming is real; that humans can flourish without milk or eggs; and that a non-vegan diet is therefore part of “the tyranny of human over non-human animals”.

Long before the current vogue for gourmet vegan burgers and cauliflower steaks, Singer’s text inspired a generation of British vegans to forgo roast dinners in favour of nut roasts and carob-flavoured desserts.
Read about another book Wilson tagged.

Animal Liberation is among Jesse Ball's six favorite books and Janet Malcolm's five top books about animals, domesticated and otherwise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Pg. 99: James Tackach's "Lincoln and the Natural Environment"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Lincoln and the Natural Environment by James Tackach.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this groundbreaking environmental biography of Abraham Lincoln, James Tackach maps Lincoln’s lifelong relationship with the natural world from his birth and boyhood on Midwestern farms through his political career and presidency dealing with the effects of the Industrial Revolution and the Civil War.

Lincoln was born in a generation that grew up on farms but began to move to cities as industrialization transformed the American economy. Turning away from the outdoor, manual labor of his youth, he chose careers in law and politics but always found solace outside first on the prairies of Illinois and, later, at the woodsy presidential retreat. As Tackach shows, Lincoln relied on examples and metaphors from the natural world in his speeches and writings.

As a member of the Whig Party Lincoln endorsed the Industrial Revolution, which transformed the nation’s economy and its physical, social, and cultural landscapes, and advocated for the creation of railroads, canals, roads, and bridges to facilitate growth and the distribution of products. But he and his party failed to take steps to protect the natural environment. Surveying the destruction of the environment in the mid-nineteenth century, Tackach outlines how some American writers, the first voices for protection and conservation, began to call attention to the results of deforestation and the overhunting of animals during Lincoln’s lifetime.

As commander in chief during the Civil War, Lincoln approved a strategy that included significant infrastructure and environmental damage. In the South, where most of the battles occurred, Union troops burned cities and towns and destroyed plantations, farms, and natural landscapes. Tackach argues that, midway through his presidency, Lincoln seemed to sense that postwar Reconstruction would have to be spiritual, political, economic, and environmental in order to heal the nation’s wounds. He signed the Morrill Act, creating the land-grant colleges, and the environmentally progressive Yosemite Grant Act, which preserved thousands of acres of forest in California.

The first scholar to thoroughly investigate Lincoln’s lifelong relationship with the natural environment, Tackach paints Lincoln’s personal and professional life against the backdrop of nineteenth-century American environmental history, issues, and writers, providing insights into contemporary environmental issues.
Learn more about Lincoln and the Natural Environment at the Southern Illinois University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Lincoln and the Natural Environment.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Elizabeth Wein reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Elizabeth Wein, author of A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II.

Her entry begins:
I kept a reading log last year, and I read 72 books in 2018. If I hadn’t kept that record, I think I would have put the estimate at about 25, which just goes to show – I read a lot more than I think I do.

I live in Scotland, and one of my reading goals for last year was to read more Scottish authors. I began with the poetry of Norman MacCaig, whom I first encountered because my son was reading his work for school. I’m so glad I made the effort, as MacCaig quickly became one of my favorite new discoveries. His imagery is tied to the landscape and wildlife of Scotland, and he never ceases to surprise and delight me with new ways of looking at things. He’s also a little obsessed with nostalgia and the relentless passing of time, themes that...[read on]
About A Thousand Sisters, from the publisher:
The gripping true story of the only women to fly in combat in World War II—from Elizabeth Wein, award-winning author of Code Name Verity

In the early years of World War II, Josef Stalin issued an order that made the Soviet Union the first country in the world to allow female pilots to fly in combat. Led by Marina Raskova, these three regiments, including the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—nicknamed the “night witches”—faced intense pressure and obstacles both in the sky and on the ground. Some of these young women perished in flames. Many of them were in their teens when they went to war.

This is the story of Raskova’s three regiments, women who enlisted and were deployed on the front lines of battle as navigators, pilots, and mechanics. It is the story of a thousand young women who wanted to take flight to defend their country, and the woman who brought them together in the sky.

Packed with black-and-white photographs, fascinating sidebars, and thoroughly researched details, A Thousand Sisters is the inspiring true story of a group of women who set out to change the world, and the sisterhood they formed even amid the destruction of war.
Visit Elizabeth Wein's website.

The Page 69 Test: Black Dove, White Raven.

The Page 69 Test: The Pearl Thief.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Wein.

--Marshal Zeringue

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles's "Headlong," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Headlong by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles.

The entry begins:
I didn’t have anyone in mind for Bill when I wrote my first Bill Slider mystery, Orchestrated Death. He entered my head fully formed as soon as I started writing, and I instantly knew everything about him, what he looked like, his back story, what he liked and disliked. I have no idea where he came from, and he didn’t look like anyone I knew, on screen or off screen.

Once the first book was published, people started asking me who I would see as playing him – it seems to be a topic of perennial interest – so I had to give it some thought. I saw him as slightly stocky in build, of middling height, fair but not blonde, and with great charm, though not classical good looks. At that time, I thought Michael Kitchen would make a good Slider. I’ve always been susceptible to voices, and I liked his slight edginess of tone. And Michael Jayston, when he was young, had the right sort of sidelong smile and exuded the right warmth. Slider is a man you instantly...[read on]
Visit Cynthia Harrod-Eagles's website.

My Book, The Movie: Headlong.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top fictional books about art

Tessa Hadley's new novel is Late in the Day.

One of the author's six favorite examinations of art in fiction, as shared at The Week magazine:
Life Class by Pat Barker (2008).

Pat Barker's second trilogy about the First World War begins with this novel about three young artists at London's Slade School of Fine Art, one destined to become a medic in Belgium. She offers none of the usual clichés about the war; her research is impeccable but doesn't feel like research. The story feels fresh and unexpected as life itself.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 28, 2019

Pg. 69: Simon Ings's "The Smoke"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Smoke by Simon Ings.

About the book, from the publisher:
Simon Ings’ THE SMOKE is about love, loss and loneliness in an incomprehensible world.

Humanity has been split into three different species. Mutual incomprehension has fractured the globe. As humans race to be the first of their kind to reach the stars, another Great War looms.

For you, that means returning to Yorkshire and the town of your birth, where factories churn out the parts for gigantic spaceships. You’re done with the pretentions of the capital and its unfathomable architecture. You’re done with the people of the Bund, their easy superiority and unstoppable spread throughout the city of London and beyond. You’re done with Georgy Chernoy and his questionable defeat of death. You’re done with his daughter, Fel, and losing all the time. You’re done with love.

But soon enough you will find yourself in the Smoke again, drawn back to the life you thought you’d left behind.

You’re done with love. But love’s not done with you.
Visit Simon Ings's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Smoke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven literary anti-heroes who expose the dark side of NYC

A.F. Brady is a writer, psychotherapist and mental health counsellor. Her latest novel is Once a Liar.

One of the author's favorite literary anti-heroes who expose the reality of how New York City privilege and excess can lead to anything but happiness, as shared at CrimeReads:
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (1951)

Holden Caulfield, one of the most controversial characters in literature, at once hated and revered, seems unable to find connection and satisfaction in any of his social encounters. He arrives back in New York after his expulsion from the prestigious and exclusive Pencey Prep in Pennsylvania. Depressed and chronically disappointed, feeling as though everyone except for him is a phony, Caulfield wishes to eventually become what he describes as “the catcher in the rye.” A person whose job it is to ensure that children playing in rye fields do not accidentally fall from the cliff at the edge of the rye fields. He sees it as saving children from losing their innocence, while Holden Caulfield himself is adrift in losing his own.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Catcher In The Rye appears on Liz Phair's ten desert island books list, Brian Boone's list of five great novels that will probably never be made into movies, Natalie Zutter's list of nine classic YA books ripe for some creative genderbending of the main characters, Lance Rubin's top ten list of books with a funny first-person narrator, Andy Griffiths's list of five books that changed him, Chris Pavone's list of five books that changed him, Gabe Habash's list of the 10 most notorious parts of famous books, Robert McCrum's list of the 10 best books with teenage narrators, Antoine Wilson's list of the 10 best narrators in literature, A.E. Hotchner's list of five favorite coming-of-age tales, Jay McInerney's list of five essential New York novels, Woody Allen's top five books list, Patrick Ness's top 10 list of "unsuitable" books for teenagers, David Ulin's six favorite books list, Nicholas Royle's list of the top ten writers on the telephone, TIME magazine's list of the top ten books you were forced to read in school, Tony Parsons' list of the top ten troubled males in fiction, Dan Rhodes' top ten list of short books, and Sarah Ebner's top 25 list of boarding school books; it is one of Sophie Thompson's six best books. Upon rereading, the novel disappointed Khaled Hosseini, Mary Gordon, and Laura Lippman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Julie C. Keller's "Milking in the Shadows"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Milking in the Shadows: Migrants and Mobility in America’s Dairyland by Julie C. Keller.

About the book, from the publisher:
Migrant workers live in a transnational world that spans the boundaries of nation-states. Yet for undocumented workers, this world is complicated by inflexible immigration policies and the ever-present threat of enforcement. Workers labeled as “illegals” wrestle with restrictive immigration policies, evading border patrol and local police as they risk their lives to achieve economic stability for their families. For this group of workers, whose lives in the U.S. are largely defined by their tenuous legal status, the sacrifices they make to get ahead entail long periods of waiting, extended separation from family, and above all, tremendous uncertainty around a freedom that many of us take for granted—everyday mobility. In Milking in the Shadows, Julie Keller takes an in-depth look at a population of undocumented migrants working in the American dairy industry to understand the components of this labor system. This book offers a framework for understanding the disjuncture between the labor desired by employers and life as an undocumented worker in America today.
Learn more about Milking in the Shadows at the Rutgers University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Milking in the Shadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Marius Gabriel reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Marius Gabriel, author of The Parisians.

His entry begins:
I'm currently reading Miranda Seymour's very entertaining life of Mary Shelley, the second wife of the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Miranda Seymour is a novelist as well as a biographer, and so the book is delightfully readable. Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein at the age of 19, was a brilliant and fascinating woman, whose life with the notoriously erratic poet was a mixture of tragedy, high adventure and bitter disillusionment. Highly recommended!

I especially admire Miranda Seymour's ability to...[read on]
About The Parisians, from the publisher:
In occupied Paris, one woman risks everything to help bring down the Nazis.

Paris, 1940. The Nazis have occupied the city­—and the Ritz. The opulent old hotel, so loved by Parisians, is now full of swaggering officers, their minions and their mistresses.

For American Olivia Olsen, working as a chambermaid at the hotel means denying her nationality and living a lie, every day bringing the danger of discovery closer. When Hitler’s right-hand man moves in and makes her his pet, she sees an opportunity to help the Resistance—and draw closer to Jack, her contact, whose brusque instructions may be a shield for something more…

Within the hotel, famed designer Coco Chanel quickly learns that the new regime could work to her benefit, while Arletty, one of France’s best-loved actresses, shocks those around her—and herself—with a forbidden love.

But as the war reaches its terrible end, all three women learn the true price of their proximity to the enemy. For in the shadow of war, is anyone truly safe?
Visit Marius Gabriel's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Parisians.

My Book, The Movie: The Parisians.

Writers Read: Marius Gabriel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Five literary SF scenarios in which the earth cools down dramatically

At James Davis Nicoll tagged five fictional narratives about global cooling, including:
The cause of the cooling in John Christopher’s The World in Winter (The Long Winter in the US) is quite straightforward: the Sun dims ever so slightly. Hard cheese for the people of Great Britain, which as we know has had its indigenous human population wiped out by encroaching glaciers a half dozen or so times in the last million years. A bunch of privileged Brits head for Africa, which is less affected by the cooling. Much to the consternation of the refugees, they find that African nations only recently freed from their colonial conquerors do not welcome them with open arms…much like the real-world reactions of wealthy nations shutting out victims of climate change, war, and social disruption.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: James Brabazon's "The Break Line"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Break Line by James Brabazon.

About the book, from the publisher:
British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max McLean, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award winning war correspondent.

When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he’s never missed, but Max has made one miscalculation and now he has to pay the price.

His handlers send him to Sierra Leone on a seemingly one-way mission. What he finds is a horror from beyond his nightmares. Rebel forces are loose in the jungle and someone or something is slaughtering innocent villagers. It’s his job to root out the monster behind these abominations, but he soon discovers that London may consider him the most disposable piece in this operation.
Visit James Brabazon's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Break Line.

--Marshal Zeringue

Edward Humes's "Burned," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn’t by Edward Humes.

The entry begins:
There are two leading roles if Burned were to be made into a movie: The character of Raquel Cohen, attorney at the California Innocence Project, and her client, Jo Ann Parks, who has been in prison for more than half her lifetime, convicted of killing her three children by setting fire to their home and trapping them inside. Cohen is trying to prove Parks innocent and, in the process, expose the failings of forensic science used in thousands of other cases.

My choice to play the brilliant, quirky, cynical yet idealistic Cohen is either Jessica Biel, who was mesmerizing in The Sinner, or Homeland star Claire Danes, who can basically do anything. It’s a toss-up: Either would be fantastic.

For her chameleon-like ability to become anyone, and to blur into ambiguity the line between innocence and guilt, I would want...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Edward Humes's website.

The Page 99 Test: Force of Nature.

The Page 99 Test: Garbology.

My Book, The Movie: Burned.

--Marshal Zeringue

Terrence McNally's ten favorite books

Terrence McNally is an American playwright, librettist, and screenwriter.

One of his ten favorite books, as shared at
Act One by Moss Hart

If you are at all interested in what it’s like to work in the theater, especially Broadway, this is the only book you need to read. It’s more fun (and accurate) than All About Eve and as someone who can recite Joseph Mankiewicz’s screenplay from memory that is high praise indeed.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pg. 99: Audra J. Wolfe's "Freedom's Laboratory"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Freedom's Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science by Audra J. Wolfe.

About the book, from the publisher:
Scientists like to proclaim that science knows no borders. Scientific researchers follow the evidence where it leads, their conclusions free of prejudice or ideology. But is that really the case? In Freedom’s Laboratory, Audra J. Wolfe shows how these ideas were tested to their limits in the high-stakes propaganda battles of the Cold War.

Wolfe examines the role that scientists, in concert with administrators and policymakers, played in American cultural diplomacy after World War II. During this period, the engines of US propaganda promoted a vision of science that highlighted empiricism, objectivity, a commitment to pure research, and internationalism. Working (both overtly and covertly, wittingly and unwittingly) with governmental and private organizations, scientists attempted to decide what, exactly, they meant when they referred to "scientific freedom" or the "US ideology." More frequently, however, they defined American science merely as the opposite of Communist science.

Uncovering many startling episodes of the close relationship between the US government and private scientific groups, Freedom’s Laboratory is the first work to explore science’s link to US propaganda and psychological warfare campaigns during the Cold War. Closing in the present day with a discussion of the recent March for Science and the prospects for science and science diplomacy in the Trump era, the book demonstrates the continued hold of Cold War thinking on ideas about science and politics in the United States.
Visit Audra J. Wolfe's website.

The Page 99 Test: Freedom's Laboratory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fourteen top SFF books with a powerful message of social justice

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged fourteen SFF books or series with a powerful message of social justice, including:
The Bartimaeus Sequence (The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye, Ptolemy’s Gate, The Ring of Solomon), by Jonathan Stroud

Though ostensibly a middle grade series for readers looking for their next magical fix after finishing Harry Potter, Stroud’s Bartimeaus books (a trilogy and a prequel) hide powerful, deeply progressive messages about colonialism, civil rights, and inequality within a thrilling, cheekily humorous adventure story. As the first book opens, the title character, a 5,000-year-old immortal djinni, is bound by magic to serve the whims of 12-year-old Nathaniel, the generally good-hearted apprentice to a middling magician. With the unwilling help of the supernatural being, who will suffer terrible pain if he refuses the boy’s commands, Nathaniel uncovers a plot to overthrow London’s ruling sorcerer class. But by the second book, Nathaniel has become a part of the machine himself, and the focus shifts to a group of young people fighting against the entrenched powers that be. As a whole, the series is as much about prejudice, injustice, and the fight for equality—sorcerers aren’t inherently powerful; they just have the money required to purchase magical equipment, artifacts, and an education—as it inventive battle sequences between supernatural beings.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Amulet of Samarkand is among Sarah Gailey's top ten sci-fi & fantasy books that will remind you that life is about more than suffering, Django Wexler's top ten animal companions in children's fiction, and Francesca Simon's top ten fictional antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Mike Chen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Mike Chen, author of Here and Now and Then.

His entry begins:
I am currently reading Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller and A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard. For Blackfish, I've actually restarted it because I got about 1/3 through it before having to pause for 6 weeks of editing. Blackfish is a multi-POV story with brilliant world building and its own mythos about the political undercurrent driving a post-climate island city-state. The prose really sings but the world is pretty intricate -- this is a good thing, the creativity on display is astonishing -- but because of that I found it easier to...[read on]
About Here and Now and Then, from the publisher:
To save his daughter, he’ll go anywhere—and any-when…

Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.

A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.
Visit Mike Chen's website.

My Book, The Movie: Here and Now and Then.

Writers Read: Mike Chen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 25, 2019

Ten of 2018's best books about climate change, conservation & the environment

At Forbes, GrrlScientist tagged ten of 2018's best books about climate change, conservation and the environment, including:
In Search of the Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World by Lauren E. Oakes

In this book, we accompany author and scientist, Lauren Oakes, on her journey from the classroom to the cold, wet old-growth forests of the rugged outer coast of Southeast Alaska as she conducts field studies to identify what happened to the iconic yellow cedar trees. These magnificent trees are important to native Alaskans’ way of life. The author obtained grants and devoted six years of her life to gathering data, so ultimately, her thesis was unequivocal. She was rigorous and thorough in her research, but at the same time, she is filled with despair over the cedar’s rapid retreat from its historic range and concerns about the ecological and human impacts this portends. Then, in the midst of all this emotional turmoil, her father unexpectedly dies. But her thesis cannot wait for her to properly mourn him. This remarkable, straightforward personal narrative provides a moving behind-the-scenes glimpse into the development of a young scientist as she searches for meaning and resilience in the face of great personal and global challenges. This inspirational memoir’s appeal will reach far beyond its timely and valuable lessons about climate science, social science and forest ecology; it shares much-needed hope and wonder with readers who may be searching for how to live in an increasingly devastated world.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 99 Test: In Search of the Canary Tree.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Louise Kettle's "Learning from the History of British Interventions in the Middle East"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Learning from the History of British Interventions in the Middle East by Louise Kettle.

About the book, from the publisher:
Interrogates whether the British government has learned anything from its interventions in the Middle East, from the 1950s to 2016

Learning from history helps states to create foreign and security policy that builds upon successes and avoids past mistakes. Drawing on a wealth of previously unseen documents, sourced by Freedom of Information requests, together with interviews with government and intelligence agency officials, Louise Kettle questions whether the British government has learned anything from its military interventions in the Middle East. She provides an extended commentary on military interventions in the Middle East since the 1950s, including a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Whitehall decision-making and a critical examination of the 2016 Iraq Inquiry report.

The result is a highly original account of key political events that challenges the claims of lessons being learned from recent wars. This book comes at a decisive moment as the ongoing war against Daesh, conflicts in Syria, and Saudi-Iran tensions continue to leave British action in the region as a contemporary reality where lessons from the past could prevent the British government from making the same mistakes again and again.
Learn more about Learning from the History of British Interventions in the Middle East at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Learning from the History of British Interventions in the Middle East.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight shocking thrillers featuring scandals

Kristyn Kusek Lewis is the author of the novels Save Me (2014) and How Lucky You Are (2012), both from Grand Central. Her new novel is Half of What You Hear.

At CrimeReads she tagged "eight favorite shocking thrillers that feature scandals, all of which spotlight central characters who are memorably, deliciously, deplorable." One title on the list:
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

This dishy, fast-paced, entertaining drama written by two sisters follows Daphne and Jackson Parrish, a richer-than-rich couple who seem to have it all, and Amber, the unremarkable, down-at-the-heels woman who insinuates herself into the Parrish’s family to get the money and status she so desperately craves. A true page-turner, the characters’ actions—and particularly, the sociopathic husband’s—are so diabolical that you won’t believe the ending. This is a true case of “how low will people go to get what they want” and became an international bestseller for a reason.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Last Mrs. Parrish is among Margot Hunt's top nine thrillers featuring duplicitous spouses and Jennifer Hillier's eight crime novels of women starting over.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Mrs. Parrish.

--Marshal Zeringue

Chris Cander's "The Weight of a Piano," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Weight of a Piano: A novel by Chris Cander.

The entry begins:
Clara: Annie Murphy. I’m a huge Schitt’s Creek fan. I watched all four seasons in a few weeks while I was recovering from hamstring surgery. Annie’s character on the show, Alexis, is nothing like Clara—who’s strong, quiet, determined, vulnerable, evolving—but I know Annie could pull it off.

Peter: Armie Hammer. I’d actually love for him to play Greg, because he was born in Santa Monica, CA to parents who were Russian Jewish immigrants to the US. But he’s...[read on]
Visit Chris Cander's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Weight of a Piano.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Five top YA sci-fi & fantasy novels

Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not writing, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.

One of his favorite YA sci-fi & fantasy novels, as shared at
Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson

I was familiar with Sanderson’s work from the adult side of SFF, but for me his Reckoners trilogy, starting with Steelheart, is some of his absolute best. Superhero stories are a natural fit for the fast, explosive action he’s known for, and this investigation of a different kind of superhero world—in which the vast majority of them are evil, and they’ve taken over the country—is the kind of deconstruction I love. Another one with excellent characters—that’s a theme in my favorite YA, obviously—this series keeps up tension and interest in our main characters’ relationship without feeling manipulative.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Adam J. Silverstein's "Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story: The Reception of a Biblical Book in Islamic Lands by Adam J. Silverstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story: The Reception of a Biblical Book in Islamic Lands examines the ways in which the Biblical Book of Esther was read, understood, and used in Muslim lands, from ancient to modern times. It focuses on case studies covering works from various periods and regions of the Muslim world, including the Qur'an, pre-modern historical chronicles and literary works, the writings of a nineteenth-century Shia feminist, a twentieth-century Iranian encyclopaedia, and others. These case studies demonstrate that Muslim sources contain valuable materials on Esther, which shed light both on the Esther story itself and on the Muslim peoples and cultures that received it.

Adam J. Silverstein argues that Muslim sources preserve important pre-Islamic materials on Esther that have not survived elsewhere, some of which offer answers to ancient questions about Esther, such as the meaning of Haman's epithet in the Greek versions of the story, the reason why Mordecai refused to prostrate before Haman, and the literary context of the 'plot of the eunuchs' to kill the Persian king. Throughout the book, Silverstein shows how each author's cultural and religious background influenced his or her understanding and retelling of the Esther story. In particular, he highlights that Persian Muslims (and Jews) were often forced to reconcile or choose between the conflicting historical narratives provided by their religious and cultural heritages respectively.
Learn more about Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Veiling Esther, Unveiling Her Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten musical novels

Rebecca Kauffman is originally from rural northeastern Ohio. She received her B.A. in Classical Violin Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, and several years later, she received her M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University. She currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She is the author of Another Place You’ve Never Been, which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and the acclaimed The Gunners.

At the Guardian, Kauffman tagged ten great works of fiction that incorporate music and/or musicians, including:
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

While Mel and Sharon’s partnership and creative mission are rooted in the field of animation, Whitaker weaves many musical references into this debut, from Wu-Tang Clan to Joy Division, which ground the reader in the characters’ experiences and sensibility. It is one of my favourite novels of recent years, and I have read it in a single day on two separate occasions. It’s about friendship, creativity and collaboration, as well as self-doubt, isolation and the painful reckoning with one’s own past that many artists undergo.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Animators.

The Page 69 Test: The Animators.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Carol Potenza reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Carol Potenza, author of Hearts of the Missing: A Mystery.

Her entry begins:
The Vanishing Season: A Mystery by Joanna Schaffhausen

I picked up Joanna Schaffhausen’s debut because she’d won the Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. Then I couldn’t put it down. Her protagonist, Ellery Hathaway, a small-town New England cop, is hiding her identity. Not because she’s committed a crime, but because, as a child, she was snatched by a serial killer—and was the only victim who survived. She’d had enough of the media’s attention and wanted to be left alone to heal, if she ever could. But she’s been found—for the last two years on her birthday, someone in her community has vanished without a trace, and another birthday is rapidly approaching. No one in town believes her theory that the disappearances are linked, so she turns to the one person who might: FBI agent Reed Markham, the man who’d rescued her. Markham, whose career zenith had been saving Ellery, is now at a nadir in his life. His marriage falling apart and a shattering misstep in a recent high-profile case have...[read on]
About Hearts of the Missing, from the publisher:
Beautifully written with a riveting plot and a richly drawn, diverse cast of characters, Hearts of the Missing is the mesmerizing debut from 2017 Tony Hillerman Prize recipient Carol Potenza.

When a young woman linked to a list of missing Fire-Sky tribal members commits suicide, Pueblo Police Sergeant Nicky Matthews is assigned to the case. As the investigation unfolds, she uncovers a threat that strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Fire-Sky Native: victims chosen and murdered because of their genetic makeup. But these deaths are not just about a life taken. In a vengeful twist, the killer ensures the spirits of those targeted will wander forever, lost to their family, their People, and their ancestors. When those closest to Nicky are put in jeopardy, she must be willing to sacrifice everything—her career, her life, even her soul—to save the people she is sworn to protect.
Visit Carol Potenza's website.

Writers Read: Carol Potenza.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Seven novels that explore real estate swindles

Wil Medearis is the author of Restoration Heights.

At CrimeReads he tagged seven favorite novels that explore crooked land deals, including:
Tana French, Broken Harbor

It’s fun to imagine which current authors will one day be admitted into the canon of crime fiction. There are plenty of talented names in contention, but Irish writer Tana French is a shoe-in. Like Chandler and Ellroy and so many other greats of the genre she weaves unflinching social scrutiny into every aspect of her twisty, unpredictable plots, and has invigorated a genre—in her case the police procedural—with fresh insights and expansive possibilities. Broken Harbor begins with the murder of a family in an unfinished luxury development of the same name, and as the Dublin Murder Squad pieces together the events that led to their death the book assembles a portrait of unchecked greed and the raw exploitation of a family’s desire to live a better life. America’s sins turn out to be Ireland’s too, and no one working today is better at turning those sins into a compulsively addicting read than Tana French.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Mike Chen's "Here and Now and Then," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen.

The entry begins:
I tend to dream cast my roles while writing. This is purely out of logistical need -- I find I can visualize a scene better (and thus translate it to prose better) if I have an actor in mind, complete with voice tics. For Here and Now and Then, it all started with Idris Elba as main character Kin Stewart, particularly Elba from Luther (sharp-eyed readers will find two easter eggs for this).

For the supporting cast, I basically plucked actors from...[read on]
Visit Mike Chen's website.

My Book, The Movie: Here and Now and Then.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gilbert E. Metcalf's "Paying for Pollution"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Paying for Pollution: Why a Carbon Tax is Good for America by Gilbert E. Metcalf.

About the book, from the publisher:
The threats posed by global climate change are widely recognized and carbon emmissions are the major source of greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuels causes long-lasting, pervasive damages, costly to those of us alive today and even more to our children and our children's children. The United States is the second largest carbon emitting country in the world and should play a key role in global efforts to reduce emissions.

Paying for Pollution incisively examines the very real costs-economic and social-of climate change and the challenges of concerted action to reduce future losses due to damages of higher temperatures and more extreme weather. Gilbert E. Metcalf argues that there is a convergence of social, economic, environmental, and political forces that provides an opening for a new approach to climate policy, one based on market principles that can appeal to politicians across the political spectrum. After all, markets work best when the price of a good reflects all its costs.

Metcalf suggests that a thoughtfully and politically sensitive designed carbon tax could also contribute to an improved tax system, something desired by Republican and Democratic politicians alike. That is, a carbon tax increases fiscal flexibility by providing new revenues to finance reforms to the income tax that improve the fairness of the tax code and contribute to economic growth. Metcalf compares the benefits of a carbon tax to other potential policies, such as cap and trade, to reduce the threats of climate change. None, he shows, are as effective, efficient, and fair as a carbon tax.
Learn more about Paying for Pollution at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Paying for Pollution.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Emily Suvada's "This Cruel Design"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada.

About the book, from the publisher:
Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefine’s ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.
Visit Emily Suvada's website.

The Page 69 Test: This Cruel Design.

--Mashal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Thirteen top novels set in the world of myth

Steph Post is the author of A Tree Born Crooked, Lightwood, and Walk in the Fire, as well as a short story writer, reader, teacher and dog lover (among many other things...).

Her new novel is Miraculum.

At LitReactor Post tagged thirteen novels set in the world of myth, including:
Circe by Madeline Miller

If there’s anyone to dominate the field of novelized Greek myths, it’s Madeline Miller. Circe—Miller’s most recent novel—tells the story of the goddess/witch/sorceress most famous for changing Odysseus and his men into swine. As with her previous novel, Song of Achilles, and her short novella, Galatea, Miller gets us into the heads of characters who previously seemed little more than statues, oil paintings or glossed-over footnotes. Aside from the direct mythological link, Circe is a dazzling, compulsive read all on its own.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Mesha Maren reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Mesha Maren, author of Sugar Run.

One book she tagged:
Waiting for Nothing by Tom Kromer – an amazing autobiographical novel written by a man from Huntington, West Virginia about his years of homelessness during the 1930s...[read on]
About Sugar Run, from the publisher:
In 1989, Jodi McCarty is seventeen years old when she’s sentenced to life in prison. When she’s released eighteen years later, she finds herself at a Greyhound bus stop, reeling from the shock of unexpected freedom but determined to chart a better course for herself. Not yet able to return to her lost home in the Appalachian Mountains, she heads south in search of someone she left behind, as a way of finally making amends. There, she meets and falls in love with Miranda, a troubled young mother living in a motel room with her children. Together they head toward what they hope will be a fresh start. But what do you do with your past—and with a town and a family that refuses to forget, or to change?

Set within the charged insularity of rural West Virginia, Mesha Maren’s Sugar Run is a searing and gritty debut about making a break for another life, the use and treachery of makeshift families, and how, no matter the distance we think we’ve traveled from the mistakes we’ve made, too often we find ourselves standing in precisely the place we began.
Visit Mesha Maren's website.

Writers Read: Mesha Maren.

--Marshal Zeringue